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HITCHCOCK

Located in northeastern Blaine County, Hitchcock is situated on State Highway 8, ten miles northeast of Watonga, the county seat. At the suggestion of Dennis T. Flynn, Oklahoma Territory delegate to Congress, the town was named for Ethan Allen Hitchcock, secretary of the interior from 1899 to 1907. Hitchcock was established along the Enid and Anadarko Railway line (conveyed to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway in 1903) by the Hitchcock Townsite Company. The land was platted into lots and blocks, and it was reported that on the first day of land sales, August 23, 1901, $2,600 worth of lots were sold by that evening. Businesses almost immediately came into being. There were hardware stores, grocery stores, a bank, a hotel, restaurants, saloons, factories, several mills, barber shop, movie theater, skating rink, lumber yard, blacksmith shop, and mortuary. The post office was established on October 9, 1901. Early newspapers such as the Vanguard and the Hitchcock Clarion informed the citizens.

Early-day Hitchcock was the busiest trade center in the county. It was reported in 1905 that the town shipped twenty-five thousand bushels of wheat, which took the title of "largest wagon wheat market in the world," a designation previously claimed by the town of Kingfisher. On February 22, 1906, a devastating fire swept through the town, destroying twenty-one business houses. Hitchcock businesses never completely recovered from that disaster, but by 1932 the town had two creameries, a cotton gin, a blacksmith/machine shop, and several mills.

The Hitchcock Elementary School was started in 1893 in a rural area, eight years before the town began. Hitchcock was one of the first consolidated schools in the state. The high school closed in 1959, and the students were transferred to Okeene, Watonga, and Lomega. The elementary school closed in 1993 after one hundred years of service. In 1981 the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway, which had been so vital in the town's development, ended local service.

At the turn of the twenty-first century Hitchcock, a "bedroom" community, had a post office, two churches, and the Sooner Cooperative, which bought wheat and sold fertilizer and fuels. The population stood at 141, compared to 198 at 1907 statehood.

SEE ALSO: CHEYENNE-ARAPAHO OPENING, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS, WICHITA-CADDO-DELAWARE OPENING.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: "Hitchcock," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Their Story: A Pioneer Days Album of the Blaine County Area (N.p.: Heritage Book Committee, 1977).

Berniece Shirley

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